Valentine’s Day is coming up, and love (and cheesy Hallmark cards) are in the air! Kids are buying each other candy, flowers, and festive singing grams. It’s an exhilarating time for many. What’s not to like about being liked?
Unless…you don’t feel liked. Valentine’s Day can quickly go from a fun holiday when everyone gets candy to a pressure-packed high school petri dish of hormones, crushes, and fragile self-esteem. We all enjoy feeling cared about, and having the looming cloud of V-doom lingering over you doesn’t help that expectation. It’s hard to be disappointed on what society tells us is the most romantic holiday ever. Like you’re missing out, and you’re the only one feeling that way. It’s called isolation, and it’s something no teenager (or general human being) wants to feel.
Connection is an important part of the human experience. As young people grow into themselves and develop those connections with their peers, interest in and desire for romantic relationships grows. It’s true, romance can be a great way to connect and feel a bond, but it certainly isn’t the only kind of meaningful love out there. For parents of a lonely kid on Valentine’s Day, we’ve got a few suggestions of things to do to show your kids there are many ways to love, and be loved.
Take Them To A Petting Zoo
Petting various adorable animals, need I say more? In addition to the self-explanatory joys of spending time with dogs and cats and llamas, it’s healthy for you. Engaging in social and affectionate touch with animals, who are great companions, can do wonders for our social confidence and happiness. And if your kid feels self-conscious or uncool going to a petting zoo, you can always swing by your nearby pet store, or take a walk around a local dog park. There are plenty of options.
Read With Them
Reading can be such an incredible way to explore fantasy worlds, ignite your imagination, and especially explore different kinds of relationships and connections. The stories that books, TV shows, and movies weave allow a unique opportunity to empathize with and connect deeply with characters that live in those mediums. Just think of how Harry Potter has touched millions around the world. Surrounded by beautiful universes and beloved characters, alone time on Valentine’s Day is far from lonely or boring.
Volunteer With Seniors
When you are in a school vacuum spending time with similar aged youth, it’s hard to imagine the lives of people in separate life stages. Volunteering with seniors in a retirement community can help give perspective and provide an opportunity to hear their life stories (they were young once too!). And they’re often in a lonely position, in which many of their friends, family, and partners have passed. Small gestures like sitting and talking with them, passing out flowers, or generally spending time can go a long way in fostering appreciation, warmth, and connection.
These are only a few suggestions to broaden your child’s horizons on what love is. There are numerous other ways to find connection in the world, as evidenced by this Lifehacker article. Whether you find it in a beloved pet, a riveting story and characters, or in small connections with individuals different to you, love is a meaningful experience that teaches us about ourselves and others. And at the end of the day, you’ll be spending quality time with your child. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.